My Beginner Archery Progression

This post was originally written back in October of 2020

I’ll be honest for a second. I’ve hesitated writing about archery or hunting for fear that it is not on-brand with what I’ve written and made videos about for the past 6 years. But that doesn’t make any sense since I write and make films about the things I enjoy and am passionate about. And right now, as of October 25, 2020, I am very passionate about archery and the potential to go hunt next season for Mule Deer with a bow and arrow. 

This all started back in late September, when I was honestly getting burned out from trail running and mountain biking. I had no goals left for the summer, all my races had been canceled or finished, and I’d ridden or ran all the trails in Park City for the year. Nothing was motivating to me, I didn’t care to go farther, I didn’t care to go faster, I was just over it. Knowing full well, I’ll be just as addicted and stoked next spring/summer when I get to ride and run again all over Park City. But for that shoulder season, until skiing came back into my life, I was looking for a change.

I told my coworker about this predicament I was in, and he offer to take me to the archery range in Salt Lake one night after work to shoot his old bow. From the moment I released my first arrow, and probably missed horribly at 10yds, I was hooked. There is so much for me to learn and know before I’ll ever be good enough, and that idea gets me more and more excited to pick up this sport. So much goes into every single shot, that it’s more complicated than you can imagine. From the technique of drawing back the bow string, aligning the pins to the target, trying to hold the +60lbs draw weight steady as you focus in on the target, then releasing the bow by pulling the trigger. Every single shot is a full body and mind experience that is exhausting, and yet very addicting. 

That first time, I didn’t do too much shooting because I was mostly getting instructions on everything from Evan. But once I was able to let a few arrows fly at 10yds, I spent the rest of the night trying to dial in my sight laterally. Since then, Evan has let me borrow his bow until I buy my own (which should be soon), and he’s gotten me all setup with arrows, a release, wax, and target. After work or on the weekends, I head out to the Uintas where I can legally shoot my target on the National Forest land. I don’t make it very far, and usually hiking in from the first dirt parking lot in the Uintas off Mirror Lake Highway and setup my target on a chair. Those nights are amazing, I mark off 10, 20, 30, and 40 yards and go through my routine. 

Each time I head out there I try and practice a different skill or technique that I heard from a YouTube video earlier that week. I try to focus on the target, not the pins. I try pulling through the release so that I have a follow-through like in golf. I’ll adjust my release to fix my draw length. I work on pulling right into my anchor position every time, rather than moving my head to it. So much to work on, all while my site is totally not calibrated correctly, but that is most likely because the draw weight was reduced from 70lbs to 60lbs so that I could learn better. I also can’t believe I used to straight pull back the bow rather than arching my back to use my lats, I’m surprised I didn’t tear anything in my shoulder.

Like I mentioned, my end goal is to be good enough at archery by next fall so that I can go hunt Mule Deer. I’d love to be able to feed my family with a deer I’ve harvested, and have meat in the freezer for nearly a whole year. I’m not here to say things are right or wrong, but I would love to be responsible for the meat I eat.  We can’t afford to eat organic meat, even though we’d love to, and I think this is the most reasonable way to satisfy that want. Sure, I think hunting with a rifle would have a much higher success rate than me going out with a bow, but that’s the challenge that I cannot wait to take on. I love to shoot guns and have never hunted before in my life, so most of what I’m speaking of is coming from conversations I’ve had or stories I’ve listened to. But the best part of this is that the archery season is so long in Utah. But who knows, it’s a long ways away, 2021 that is. I still gotta make it through 2020 first! 

Author’s Note. I finally posted this nearly a year after writing this because I finally felt comfortable sharing it. At the time, I really wasn’t sure how this would go. In 2021, I drew a Mule Deer and Elk tag, and unfortunately, despite how much I practiced, shot, and hunted, I was unsuccessful. The stoke is still alive and can’t wait for the 2022 hunting season.

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